Sights Set on Optimistic Future for Cairns Growers

This article was originally published in the CANEGROWERS Magazine on 4 June 2018.

Growers throughout the Cairns Region recently came together in a series of workshops that focused on bringing together growers from across the generations to address industry issues and plan for the future.

The sessions focused on how best to enhance the role of the younger generations on the farm and identify ways to attract younger growers to the industry.

Workshop facilitator Dr John Pickering believes events like these are an important opportunity for growers to have their say and contribute to building the future of the cane industry.

“Growers had some great ideas on how to attract younger generations into the industry,” he said, “the sessions revealed a lot of optimism about what the industry could look like in the future.”

“There is no doubt that the industry is facing some challenges at the moment, especially as the average age of growers is increasing and younger generations entering the system are getting harder and harder to find.  

“However, what stood out most was the belief in the industry’s ability to tackle these problems and their optimism for the future as the industry invests in technologies that seek to do more with a stick of sugar.”

CANEGROWERS Cairns Region Chairman, Stephen Calcagno took part in the workshops, and believes that it is this forward thinking that will attract more young growers.

“There are a lot of exciting opportunities around the corner as groups such as MSF Sugar are investing in cogeneration plants to convert bagasse and the agave plant into renewable energy.

“This is an important opportunity for younger growers to get on board. If we can grow a crop that fully supports renewable energy, it could completely revolutionise the industry.”

Looking ahead, Stephen believes that the industry has a lot to offer younger growers and highlights the importance of supporting them wherever possible.

CANEGROWERS Cairns Region Chairman, Stephen Calcagno, with Dr John Pickering of Project Cane Changer

CANEGROWERS Cairns Region Chairman, Stephen Calcagno, with Dr John Pickering of Project Cane Changer

 “Older growers have a wealth of experience and knowledge that are the most important resource we have to draw upon and learn from, however, the industry won’t get very far if we can’t attract younger growers in the near future.”

“There is plenty to be look forward to.” Stephen said, “The Government and public are now using more positive language when speaking about the industry, and growers are getting on board setting the record straight for a brighter future.”

 The workshops were run as part of Project Cane Changer, a CANEGROWERS initiative funded by the Department of Environment and Science which is highlighting the positive changes taking place throughout the sugarcane industry.